Challenges facing new Bok coach

Thumbnail

Support Team

It would appear the new Bok boss will inherit a few men who were part of former coach Heyneke Meyer’s management team - such as forwards coach Johan van Graan, possibly team manager Ian Schwartz and even kicking coach Louis Koen. Will he be happy with these men or will he simply be content with the situation even though he’d prefer to have picked his own assistants, men he knows and fully trusts and have walked some distance with him at provincial level?

The Bok boss though is expected to make some of his own “appointments” and if talk in recent days is to be believed, then one of those men will be Kings backs coach Mzwandile Stick.

It will largely be a new-look coaching team and gelling into a unit could take some time.

Captain

The new leader of the team is likely to be only named on the eve of the first Test of the year in June but the new coach will have to think about finding the right man from the off. Crucially, he’ll want to consider a player who’ll be a certainty in his position every time the team play, but does this mean he can look abroad for the Bok captain? Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw are experienced and are considered leaders in the Bok set-up, but both play overseas. Bismarck du Plessis is also abroad, so then one has to consider Adriaan Strauss, Pat Lambie or Schalk Burger. Would Warren Whiteley be in the running even though he might not be the first choice No 8 and what about Juan de Jongh?

Style

The Boks under Meyer promised a lot but delivered little. For four years the Boks didn’t quite know what they wanted to do: Try and match the All Blacks with pace, power and skill or stick to what is seen as being “traditional Bok strengths”. Whoever takes charge will have to get a brand of rugby in place from the off and, hopefully, one that suits the players - one can only hope the Boks show a greater attacking intent under the new coach.

Transformation

Keeping every sector of society happy is unfortunately one of the challenges facing the national rugby coach. Meyer and before him Peter de Villiers and Jake White, were criticised for not picking enough black players, and it seems the new coach will not be allowed to walk the same road. There’s no need for him to do so, anyway. There are more than enough good black players in South Africa to play Test rugby, so selecting a fully representative squad shouldn’t be a problem. The transformation issue will, however, remain a thorny issue for some.

Overseas Players

Another taxing issue; how many Europe and Japan based players will the Bok boss be allowed to pick? With more and more men leaving SA to earn the big bucks abroad, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pick local players only - even if that would be ideal and the wish of Saru. The policy really should be one of “pick the best, no matter where they play”, but this is unlikely to be case.

Winning

Despite going deep at the World Cup last year, the Boks never looked like a championship-winning team and their record in Tests over the last two years wasn’t anything to write home about. The fact is the Boks lost too many matches they should have, and could have, won under Meyer and turning that around will be high on the new coach’s agenda. South African rugby is too strong and too talented for the Boks to be lagging behind the All Blacks, so finding the winning recipe will be priority number one over the next year or two. - The Star

Original source: Challenges facing new Bok coach

by